5. Community of The Chosen: Followers and Initiates

One of the best studies that have appeared in Spain on the subject of sects is that of Steven Hassan, which under the title "Las técnicas de control mental de las sectas y cómo combatirlas" ("The techniques of mind control of sects and how to combat them"), tells us about the “heavenly deception” in which “God forgives the deception of the 'chosen' if this leads to new 'spiritual children'”, and where it is reiterated that they should consider the "Father" as the representative of God on Earth.

Sectarians are inoculated with the idea that just because they are part of the group or clan, they belong to a different caste of the chosen, a community of the privileged, a nucleus of the called, a circle of the predestined.

Sects, with a religious component that is motivational, lead the addict to the need for a personal experience of God and, consequently, they call themselves chosen, and are even inculcated with the idea that they are "saints" in relation to others, (63) creating an artificial and empty superiority.

Another idea that is conveyed to members of sects is the exclusive and excluding character of their own behaviour. This exclusive condition translates into the false idea of being part of the sect, automatically leading to the rejection of those who do not belong to it; henceforth, only the sect is important and "the rest" does not count.

The most obvious mirage is that sects usually present themselves as the "way of salvation", appearing to have the most diverse itineraries but all of them coinciding in a common denominator in relation to the world outside the sect itself, which is generally made to coincide with evil.

This feeling of superiority is achieved by making people believe that all the members of the sect will survive thanks to a particular divine protection (64). This feeling of superiority generates the sensation of being "chosen", a factor that not only unites the group, but also changes its morality: the "sinners" have not been "chosen", therefore it is fair that they be eliminated. There is no pity or forgiveness for the "sinner".

Another phenomenon that occurs when the whole society is made to appear hostile is that not only is the follower isolated, but he or she is presented with the germ of fear that, conveniently manipulated, will be transformed into aggression when the leader orders it. (65)

In Opus Dei, the feeling that God, the Absolute, comes to you through the Organization is even stronger. This idea that your path to full happiness passes through the Work justifies all the submissions that you impose or are imposed on you. (66) The longing to be happy and not to end, to last forever, the longing that made Miguel de Unamuno tremble when he felt the agony of his Christianity, is capable of achieving all the renunciations, if you are convinced that they are the price of its realization.

In the opinion of the writer Evaristo Acevedo, “Opus seems to imply that only those Hispanics who belong to its organization "are with God". This has a monopoly and exclusive character that does not fit with my religious criteria” (67).

María Angustias Moreno, a longtime member of Opus Dei, gives us an enlightening and illustrative testimony in this regard, “What does the Work say about itself? That it is simple, that it is authentic; that its members are equal to other men and women, ordinary people in the midst of the world. However, as soon as they arrive, they insist exhaustively that being of the Work is something wonderful, the best in the world, the greatest. Something that, as a logical consequence, makes others look at it as if from a pedestal: one enters the illumination of the great mysteries, one is chosen among thousands to form part of a perfect body; the others, what a pity! are still down there, wrapped in the darkness of error, exposed to all the dangers. By the fact of being part of the Work, one will always be right, the sure doctrine will be given to those poor people who are mistaken, deformed, ignorant and naive; because as soon as one arrives, one is already endorsed, supported and guaranteed by the directors, especially selected people (that is how they should conceive themselves) who possess, because they are united to the "Father", the gift of the unspeakable. Because the "Father" never makes mistakes, and in the Work everything passes through the "Father": "you must pass everything through my head and my heart," Escrivá repeatedly said to the directors”. (68)

You cannot even be a good Christian, for Opus Dei, if you have any physical ailment or illness. No one is admitted who has not passed the thorough medical examination to which they are subjected. The Club of God is restricted to healthy people, as one of the numeraries of Opus Dei tells us in her bitter story. She was a bit shocked when, a couple of days before "beeping" - entering the Work - she was told that she had to have a medical examination. “What did my state of health have to do with being in the Work? Wasn't it important to have a vocation? Or was it that if they discovered my kidney stones, my vocation became a decision in the hands of the doctor? This young woman has arrhythmias, forget everything you have told them, she cannot be of the Work? Funny, isn't it? The reason for this procedure is not to burden a person, apparently young and healthy, who soon after joining the Work is discovered to have some kind of more or less serious illness, because they would have to take care of her, and the Work does not want prematurely ill people, even if two days before the recognition they were sure that she had a rock-like vocation. They didn't find anything for me. However, they advised me not to say anything about the doctor at home. It was necessary to be discreet.”  (69)

In the little book "The Way", written by the "charismatic leader", there are also opposite images: (70) two types of man. Firstly, the shining image of the superman, fierce, arrogant, willful, unshakable in the ideology of his leaders and with an iron-clad contempt for the rest; God's gunman, effective and depersonalizing, disciplined to the point of absurdity, intolerant, inquisitive, in search of his absolute.

On the other hand, the tender image of the humble servant, a little vulnerable, modest, tiny among the tiny, with a low gaze, his eyes fleeing, persecuted, vexed by general hostility, masochistic at times, hypocritical at others, a little sprightly, lukewarm in everything, a little daring, but above all, never reckless, goes in search of a good bed to die for love. The two images overlap and mix to form the prototype of the "Man of Opus Dei" as he is found in life.

The members of Opus Dei have their capacity for discernment selectively nullified by being presented with, and made to believe blindly, that any attack on the Work of God is "slander" (71) when it comes from other members of the Catholic Church.


63. "Cuadernos de realidades sociales" ("Notebooks of social realities"), Nos. 35-36, p 39.
64. Rodríguez, op cit, p 110.
65. Ibid, p 113.
66. Moncada, "Opus Dei: Una interpretación", p. 116.
67. Jardiel Poncela, op cit, p 41.
68. María Angustias Moreno, "El Opus Dei, Anexo a una historia" ("Opus Dei, Annex to a History)," 5th edition (Madrid: Ediciones Libertarías Prodhufi, March 1992), p. 61.
69. "La historia amarga de una numeraria del Opus" ("The Bitter Story of an Opus Dei Numerary"), "Marie Claire" Magazine (December 1987).
70. Le Vaillant, p. 28.
71. Ynfante, op cit, p 363.

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